Visiting Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio is a small town located on the Pacific coast 80 miles from San Jose, Costa Rica. Founded in 1972, Manuel Antonio’s National Park may be the smallest park in the country but it is one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. It is easy to see why as you stroll along the white sand beaches, mystical coves and tropical rainforests that lay up against a mountain skyline. This is a great place for a family adventure or a romantic getaway.

Activities & Things to Do in Manuel Antonio

Right away, you’ll want to kick up your feet on the white sandy beaches. Visitors of all ages come here to enjoy the convenient and laid back beaches of Playita, Espadilla Sur, Teloro and the main Manuel Antonio beach. You can easily hop between Manuel Antonio beach and Espadilla Sur via a natural land bridge made of sand called “tombolo.” These beaches are ideal for exploring the tide pools, snorkeling, sports fishing for a marlin or sailfish, surfing or kayaking. If you are lucky, you may spot dolphins or migrating whales while out at sea. While these beaches are beautiful, make sure to use precaution while swimming as the riptide can be very strong.

Once you have soaked up enough sun, head into Manuel Antonio National Park. Try to get there early so that you can spot the early-rising birds and wildlife and also avoid the crowds of tourists coming to the park. You will also want to have had a large breakfast before taking off or pack lunches to go as there are no food stands inside the park. If you are traveling with children, take the Kid’s Saving the Rainforest Tour and visit an animal sanctuary. This tour was developed by a local nine year old who wanted to help save the rainforest and is now a popular destination.

Types of Animals You May See in Manuel Antonio

Do you hope to see a sloth while visiting Costa Rica? Or perhaps a white-headed capuchin or squirrel monkey? There’s all that and more at this national park. This is one of the only places where you can see all four varieties of monkeys that call Costa Rica home. Once you leave the beach and head to the rainforest, you’ll discover different types of iguanas, toucans, parrots, parakeets and even snakes (careful!). The biodiversity at Manuel Antonio National Park is unsurpassed. With diverse wildlife species including over 100 mammals and nearly 200 different kinds of birds, seeing wildlife while on a rainforest tour is an exciting way to explore the area. If you do not get your fill while hiking on your own, take some time to visit an animal sanctuary to see many endangered animals that are being protected.

Cultural Activities Available in Manuel Antonio

Start the day off right with a serving of gallo pinto (black beans and rice), a favorite local dish. For lunch, take a seat at one of the bars or sodas by the beach and watch passerby’s stroll down the shore, or peak into the artisanal stalls to find some handmade treasures. A local favorite shop is the La Botanica Spice Shop where you can find organic spices for sale that come from a local farm and private wildlife refuge.

If you are looking for beachside nightlife, then Manuel Antonio is the right destination for you. From the expat friendly bar, Dos Locos, to the unforgettable airplane bar-restaurant, El Avion, you have plenty to keep your evenings lively. Once a small town, this area has grown into a destination with all the most important amenities. From beachside to rainforest hike, you will be sure to be pleased by the amenities offered for travelers.

If you want to luxuriate some more, Manuel Antonio has many great spas and yoga studios for you to indulge in. With so many great choices of where to go, Costa Rica Escapes can help you find the right fit for exactly what you’re looking for.

What the Weather is Like in Manuel Antonio

The average year-round high temperature at Manuel Antonio National Park is 87°, and the average low is 70°. Not bad for a vacation! It rains just a few inches per month from January through March, 6-7 inches in April and December, and May through November. When you head into the Manuel Antonio National Park, the temperature will be a bit cooler, averaging around 62° most of the year.

Note: For more information about Costa Rica’s weather, read this article as well as our article on When to Visit Costa Rica.

What to Pack When Visiting Manuel Antonio

A swimsuit is a must if you wish to head down towards the beach or relax by the pool. The days can be rather warm and humidity levels are usually between 80-90%, so light loose clothing is advised. Also, quick-dry clothing comes in handy, so you can comfortably move from the beach to the town for a bite to eat. For shoes, pack sandals and closed toe sneakers or boots for entering the rainforest. Don’t forget the bug spray or sunscreen to protect you from the elements and a beach bag to keep everything together down by the shore. Make sure to keep an eye on your belongings on the beach as the local monkeys have been known to take food or objects from your bags while you are swimming.

Note: For more information on what to pack to Costa Rica, read this article.

Ready to Book a Trip to Manuel Antonio?

When you head to the beach, let us take care of you so that you can spend more time soaking in the sun and scenery. Don’t stress about which of the dozens of hotels is best for you and your family or how you will get there. With customized itineraries, you can be assured we will prepare the beach side vacation you are looking for. If you want to take off towards the rainforest, we can make sure you are with a qualified guide as you explore the Manuel Antonio National Park so you will have VIP access to the hidden creatures like sloths hiding in the trees or interesting species of frog or bird.